JAN 10, 2021 8:12 PM PST

New Treatment for Botulism

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Researchers discover a new way to reverse botulism which can often lead to paralysis. Botulism is caused by the most potent toxin bacterium known, Clostridium botulinum.

"There are anti-toxins, but these only work before the toxins enter the motor neurons," says Min Dong, PhD, a researcher in Boston Children's Hospital's Department of Urology and corresponding author on the paper. "What we have developed is the first therapy that can eliminate toxins after they get inside neurons."

Learn more about botulism:

"One barrier to treatment has been getting across the cell membrane, which is difficult for protein drugs," explains Shin-Ichiro Miyashita, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in Dong's lab and first author on the paper. "The other is targeting specific cell types, and in this case specificity toward motor neurons and nerve terminals. We took advantage of the fact that botulinum neurotoxins target motor neurons naturally and efficiently, and can deliver a protein cargo across cell membranes."

Findings were published in Science Translational Medicine.

"This idea and approach had been attempted, but it was difficult to completely get rid of toxicity," says Dong, "until we identified a new toxin, botulinum neurotoxin X, in 2017. Unlike other botulinum toxins, this new toxin shows no toxicity after we introduce mutations, and serves as a safe delivery tool."

Source: Science Daily

About the Author
  • Nouran earned her BS and MS in Biology at IUPUI and currently shares her love of science by teaching. She enjoys writing on various topics as well including science & medicine, global health, and conservation biology. She hopes through her writing she can make science more engaging and communicable to the general public.
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